Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Falles and Ninots: Art and Ashes

From Wikipedia:
The Fallas are a Valencian tradition which celebrates Saint Joseph's Day in Valencia, Spain. Each neighbourhood of the city has an organized group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the famous speciality paella, and of course much music and laughter.

Each casal faller produces a construction known as a falla which is eventually burnt.

Formerly, much time would also be spent at the Casal Faller preparing the ninots (Valencian for puppets or dolls). During the week leading up to 19 March, each group takes its ninot out for a grand parade, and then mounts it, each on its own elaborate firecracker-filled cardboard and papier-mâché artistic monument in a street of the given neighborhood. This whole assembly is a falla.

The ninots and their falles are developed according to an agreed upon theme that was, and continues to be a satirical jab at anything or anyone unlucky enough to draw the attention of the critical eyes of the fallers — the celebrants themselves. In modern times, the whole two week long festival has spawned a huge local industry, to the point that an entire suburban area has been designated the City of Falles — Ciutat fallera. Here, crews of artists and artisans, sculptors, painters, and many others all spend months producing elaborate constructions, richly absurd paper and wax, wood and styrofoam tableaux towering up to five stories, composed of fanciful figures in outrageous poses arranged in gravity-defying architecture, each produced at the direction of the many individual neighbourhood Casals faller who vie with each to attract the best artists, and then to create the most outrageous monument to their target.

The world too often looks small and uninteresting: everything to be seen has been seen, everything to learn has been learned, but then you round a corner and there's something you didn't expect ... something wonderful that makes you want to do nothing but keep walking to see what else might be out there.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sometimes a cigar is actually a ship

From the great Gallifrey site:
The cigar ships were designed and built by the Winans family, successful railway engineers from Baltimore, Maryland who moved into marine engineering with enthusiasm and great expenditures of their family wealth, but less success. Their radical marine design concept included an ultra-streamlined spindle-shaped hull with minimum superstructure.

Inventors Ross Winans Thos. Winans - Patent signaturesThe Winans constructed at least four ships between 1858 and 1866. Two of these attracted considerable public attention as well as skepticism and outright criticism from the technical establishment. Ross Winans and his sons were, first and foremost, engineers experimenting with innovative concepts. The innovative technology would certainly have attracted Jules Verne's attention. He may well have seen one of the boats sailing or berthed in England. Some of their innovations were adopted for surface ships in the twentieth century, and many of the pioneer submarines built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century resembled them.

"Surging through the waves, plowing in and out of liquid breakers, pushing ever further with each stroke of its mighty piston" ... I have a very bad brain

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I now know why the caged cricket sings...and I know why he kickboxes

"Crickets were kept as pets in ancient China and Japan for their beautiful melodies. Crickets were prized as singing insects. Some crickets were kept in beautiful gold cages that only the rich could afford. Crickets were put in boxes in the bedchamber so the owner could hear a nighttime serenade. For people who couldn't afford golden cages, wooden ones were made from trees and bamboo."

"Cricket fighting was an ancient and popular form of entertainment. Crickets were prized as sporting pets. A person would select the toughest cricket they could find and place it on a special diet of seeds and small insects. Just before the contest, the cricket would be starved to increase its aggressiveness. Two starving crickets would be placed into a cage with the intent of inciting a fight to the death. The ancient Chinese delighted in placing bets on the crickets and found the contest entertaining. Today it is still regarded as a sport in modern China.

"Cricket fighting, which was very popular in ancient China, is slowly being revived. The earliest publication for how to use cricket for fighting is in Song Dynasty (1213-1275). The practice became rare after the revolution, due to its 'bourgeois nature'. Now it is making a come back. There are even Association for Cricket Fighting in Beijing. The association sponsors national tournaments whereby modern equipment such as video cameras are used to zoom in and project the fighting onto many television sets, which enable many viewers to see the fighting simultaneously," according to Zhiyong Buang."

I live for the moment when I can see televised cricket kickboxing from Beijing at my local sports bar....

Frustrated Belgian aircraft designer quits the art field and takes up coffee making: Panamarenko

"Panamarenko's experimental flying machines modeled on the motion of birds, insects, and human craft have been greeted with wonder and acclaim since the 1960s. In his exploration of the potentially fertile relationships linking technology and nature, Panamarenko considers issues of imagination as well as function.

Since the mid-1960s, he has invented flying machines that combine primitive forms with technologically sophisticated materials in his search to resolve practical mechanical problems as well as to probe metaphysical dilemmas. In addition to building and testing speculative models, Panamarenko has developed singular theories on the nature of closed systems, electromagnetism, and the relationship between inertia and mass."

..The name Panamarenko is supposedly an acronym for Pan American Airlines and Company. In 2005 he retired from art to promote his own coffee-brand, PanamaJumbo

Here's a little cryptic poem I found about the man himself. I love it ; but i'm completely unable to fathom it,...just like Panamarenko, and I like that.

He is never late for anything.
His heart is free from all movement;
He owns his future, no residue deteriorates."

The anatomy of Godzilla

"How does Godzilla generate radioactivity? Apparently its stomach has mutated into a new organ: the plasma gland. Radioactive particles rise from here to be expelled via the mouth during combat, and excess radioactivity is also passed into the dorsal scutes at the same time 'not unlike the overflow guard in your ordinary bathtub', apparently (according to here: this is where the adjacent image comes from). Thanks to its plasma gland, Godzilla continually generates new radioactivity as a source of power, discharging the excess via the scutes and a duct leading to the mouth. This also means that Godzilla doesn't need to eat, and that must be a good thing when you weigh over 24,000 tons. There are other speculations on Godzilla's biology, including on cell structure, and on the mysterious substance known as Regenerator G-1 and allowing him unparalleled regenerative abilities."

The Gypsy girl that stole my heart: The Romany Vardo

"Caravans have only been used by Gypsies for 150 years. Before that time, they walked on foot, used carts to convey their possessions, and slept in tents. Wagons built to live in developed about 1810 in France and were soon used in England by showmen travelling between fairs and with circuses. Gypsies only began living in them about 1850. They called their home a 'vardo', and it became their most prized possession."

I do not ask for much, just a Vardo, a small plot of land to park her on (ideally in San Francisco Gold Gate park,or overlooking Tokyo,..maybe Paris) and a 51 Dodge business coupe to drag her around so I can follow the sun. A barefoot Gypsy girl would be nice,..but I do not want to be to greedy,...yes its a silly dream, but its mine.

But there is hope for romantic dreamer you can buy new Caravans from The Gypsy Caravan Company If thats too large for your small dreams, there is the brilliant childs caravan From Lavenders Blue seen below:

If you perfer nitromethane instead of strong Romany coffee lets not forget John Bogosian's AMT model.

What's even stranger is that someone else remembered it, dug it up, and thought it was worth sharing

For us fans of the ska-ing Madness, it was a rumor, a myth, a half-remembered moment of "what the fuck?!" that may or may not have occcurred. But it did, and here it is: the Colgate Madness commercial. Enjoy ... or be weirded out, your choice.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Meatball Machine: Rage Against Italian Food

From Twitch:

The film's absurdist premise concerns the less-than-happy arrival of alien life on our planet, not quite new terrain for cinema but... wait. The good news is that the aliens have not come to Earth with grandiose plans for world domination or anything of that magnitude. No, these particularly bent extraterrestrials have come to our planet with only one purpose - to eat each other! The bad news, as far as citizens of Earth are concerned, is that in their quest to do this, the aliens violently (and very invasively) take control of human bodies in order to mutate them into shrieking, bleeding weapons of mass destruction through which to wage street fights with one another!

Winston Smith, The Journalist: Newspeak


"Un~ is a Newspeak prefix used for negation. It is attached to the front of words to make them negative, since there are no antonyms in Newspeak. Therefore "warm", for example, becomes "uncold". (Notice how it is often decided to keep the word which has a more unpleasant nuance to it, when choosing which one of the antonyms should be kept in the process of diminishing vocabulary. Therefore, "cold" is preferred to "warm" or "hot" and "dark" is preferred to "light",[1] even though cold and darkness are not physical phenomena as opposed to light and heat. The Party's choice for the less pleasant versions of an antonym may be interpreted as another way the Party makes its subjects depressive and pessimistic to suppress unorthodox thought.) "Un~" may also be attached to words just after "plus~" or "doubleplus~" to form negative structures like: "plusungood", meaning "very bad" or "doubleplusungood" meaning "the worst" or "extremely bad".


Unperson is a person who has been "vaporized"; who has been not only killed by the state, but effectively erased from existence. Such a person would be written out of existing books, photographs, and articles so that no trace of their existence could be found in the historical record. The idea is that such a person would, according to the principles of doublethink, be forgotten completely (for it would be impossible to provide evidence of their existence), even by close friends and family members, and mentioning his/her name is thoughtcrime. (The concept that the person may have existed at one time, and has disappeared, cannot be expressed in Newspeak.) Compare to the Stalinist practice of erasing people from photographs after their death.

A similar punishment, damnatio memoriae, was used in the Roman Empire. The Soviet Union also provided real-world examples of unpersons in its treatment of Leon Trotsky and other members of the Communist party who became politically inconvenient. In his 1960 magazine article "Pravda means 'Truth'", reprinted in Expanded Universe, Robert A. Heinlein argued that John Paul Jones and a mysterious May 15, 1960 cosmonaut had also received this treatment."

Give me that new time "religion": Transhumanisim

"The World Transhumanist Association is an international nonprofit membership organization which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. We support the development of and access to new technologies that enable everyone to enjoy better minds, better bodies and better lives. In other words, we want people to be better than well.
Where Did the WTA Come From?

The WTA was founded in 1998 by the philosophers Nick Bostrom Ph.D. and David Pearce. Its first task was organizing an international group of transhumanists to write the Transhumanist Declaration, published in 1998, and the Transhumanist Frequently Asked Questions, published in 1999. In 2002 the WTA incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Connecticut in the United States.
Who Belongs to the WTA?

Approximately 4055 people belong to the WTA from more than 100 countries, from Afghanistan to Brazil to Egypt to The Philippines. Supporting and sustaining members elect the Board, and participate in WTA leadership and decision-making. WTA members also participate in more than two dozen chapters around the world, and in a dozen affiliated organizations.
What does the WTA Do?

The WTA has three core programs of activity:
The Rights of the Person
Longer, Better Lives
Future Friendly Culture"

Yes, yes..its not a religion I know. Anyways I'm only a member for the singles mixers and the cyberneticly enhanced bowling nights.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The peaked hats and cherry cheeks of death

Their supposed benevolence is seriously in question ....

A secret underwater attraction that lured several divers to their deaths could have returned, police say.

The "gnome garden" complete with picket fence was removed from the bottom of Wastwater in the Lake District after several divers died a few years ago.

It is thought they spent too much time at too great a depth while searching for the site of the ornaments.

Now police divers say there is a rumour that the garden has returned at a depth beyond which they are allowed.

Pc Kenny McMahon, a member of the North West Police Underwater Search Unit, said the gnomes were well known among the diving community.

"You're Melcome"

Andy: "Mank You."
Adam Quark: "You mean 'thank you.'"
Andy: "You're melcome."

While not the funniest of all the scifi sitcoms (which is a very short list), Quark did have the pedigree of having Buck Henry behind the show and Richard Benjamin in front of the camera.
A spoof of Science Fiction films and television series, "Quark" chronicled the adventures of Adam Quark, captain of a United Galactic Sanitation Patrol ship. His cohorts included Gene/Jean, a "transmute" with male and female characteristics; a Vegeton (a highly-evolved plant-man) named Ficus; Andy the Android and Betty and Betty (who were always arguing over who was the clone of the other). Based at Space Station Perma One were Otto Palindrome and The Head. Though Quark was supposed to stick to his sanitization patrols, he and his crew often met adventure with such colorful space denizens as the evil High Gorgon (the Gorgons were the villains), Zoltar the Magnificent, and Zargon the Malevolent.
As further proof of the wonder of the interweb you can see all the episodes on this great Quark fansite.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Some things are slighty better in the real world: The real Ghost Rider

"Ghost Rider is the name of a motorcycle stunt rider (or a group of riders, depending on sources), based in Stockholm, Sweden. He stars in a number of motorcycle movies comprising of journeys through uncontrolled and unstaged roads and highways at obviously highly illegal speeds. One of the most notorious of these journeys is the "Uppsala Run" in Ghost Rider: The Final Ride, 2002. This trip covers 68 km of continuous travel from Stockholm to Uppsala in less than 15 minutes (this equates to an average speed of 270 km/h (168 mph) over the period) on public highways.
His true identity is unknown to the public. However, in the November 2005 issue of Slitz magazine, it was revealed that he is a foreign stunt rider who is close to 40 years old."

..and here's my favorite bit from the wiki:

"Ghost Rider has built up a myth that seems destined to endure: There are many in the motorcycle community that believe the real Ghost Rider died in an accident in 2005, whilst some of Stockholm's youth claim with conviction that he really is a ghost and can ride through walls to evade police."

The Memetic lexicon.

Dangerous to itself. Highly auto-toxic memes are usually self-limiting because they promote the destruction of their hosts (such as the Jim Jones meme; any military indoctrination meme-complex; any "martyrdom" meme). (GMG) (See exo-toxic.)

Any attempt to hinder the spread of a meme by eliminating its vectors. Hence, censorship is analogous to attempts to halt diseases by spraying insecticides. Censorship can never fully kill off an offensive meme, and may actually help to promote the meme's most virulent strain, while killing off milder forms.

and my personal favorite:
"A tune or melody which infects a population rapidly." (Rheingold); a hit song. (Such as: "Don't Worry, Be Happy".) (f. German, ohrwurm=earworm.)

Read them all, and then try to get the ideas out of your head.

Japanese subway adverts

I found these grand Japanese subway adverts in a "Link Dumper' site. I'm not sure what's more amazing, the brillaint design or the fact the subway itself is devoid of passengers.

Welcome to Weirdsville: Green Jaws

It’s coming. If you close your eyes you can hear it: a soft skittering, hovering at the edge of awareness. The sound of rustling leaves, of gravel, of soil being inexorably pushed aside. The crackling of lumber being crushed; the sharp chimes of metal being deforming by a steady, unstoppable force.

There is no escape. Already entire towns have fallen to the green hell, this floral anaconda. Emerald ghosts of buildings, fences, telephone poles, cars -- at first invisible against the verdant wave, but after a point their forms become obvious, the horror present: nothing has escaped, everything is being slowly buried, methodically consumed by its tendrils, their deadly chlorophyll embrace.

Like something from a 50’s B&W late-night horror-fest, the initial intentions were good, the betterment of mankind and all that: well-intentioned scientist seeking to end world hunger, soil erosion, or something same, develops something that Man Was Not Meant To Know and, before the second act or a commercial for some car dealership or other, the terror reaches from its soil to strangle him with cheap special effects, his over-acting as humorous as it is terrifying.

In the case of this horror, though, it wasn’t one but rather several scientists and some well-meaning agricultural agencies, and it wasn’t something plucked from some atomic pile, but rather the natural environment of Japan.

Billed as a wonderful feed for all sorts of farm animals, and just the thing to keep American topsoil from melting away in the next downpour, pueraria lobata was introduced at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. Attentive participants listened, enraptured by the plant’s near idyllic benefits: not only was it an excellent all-purpose feed, a powerful soil rejuvenator, but it'd been successfully used by the Chinese and the Japanese for at least 2,000 years as a source for tea, cloth, paper, and starch.

It wasn’t just those first farmers that were amazed by the power of this plant. Alabama Polytechnic Institute spent many years heralding its praises and even the U.S. Department of Agriculture went wild trying get it distributed, paying as much as $8 an acre to locals to cultivate it. So insidious was the plant ... er, so enthusiastic were the experts that at first the South bloomed with festivals and fairs dedicated to this incredible vine from the far East.

Meanwhile, in this mountainous lair, Fu Manchu rubs his hands together, cackling with glee: “Those Western fools, soon their lands will be --”

Suffice it to say that there are few, if any, festivals dedicated to Kudzu now.

The physiology of kudzu sounds so much like a plan for green world domination you have to wonder if it has hyptontic persuasion in addition to its regular biological superpowers: Kudzu’s roots can go twelve feet deep, meaning you just can’t pluck it. To kill the demon weed can take as long as 10 years of persistent cutting, burning, grazing, and the liberal use of herbicides. But even with this blitzkrieg of floral doom, there is still no guarantee that this wily vine won’t just sneer and keep right on growing.

Speaking of growing, this little plant can grow so fast you can actullay watch it, and it doesn’t even take glacial patience. Under perfect conditions, say anywhere in the South, Kudzu can push itself along at a foot a day. Go away for the weekend and your house could be gone when you come back, crushed under a blanket of verdant conquest.

To give you an idea of the extent this simple plant has invaded our noble homeland, kudzu now covers not two thousand acres, not two hundred thousand acres, not a million acres, but as far North as Massachusetts, as far West as Texas and Oklahoma, and even down to Florida where it has started to steadily eat the Everglades. Two million acres, people: two million acres of creeping, marching, strangling green.

Its isn’t just the terrain their kudzu that has been invaded: with the same dark sense of humor they exhibit towards everything else that has threatened their turf, Southerners laugh as their farms, homes, cars and even the occasional lethargic citizen is consumed by the tendrils of this green fiend.

James Dickey said it well in his poem, “Kudzu”:

“In Georgia, the legend says
That you must close your windows
At night to keep it out of the house.
The glass is tinged with green, even so...."

But my favorite maxim is one that’s delightfully close to terror, and one that I think conjures the real impact this creeping horror has had on all those it has touched ... or crushed: “A cow,” they say, “won’t eat kudzu, but kudzu will certainly eat a cow.”

Monday, February 19, 2007

This just in-Superman is actually a huge jackass:Superdickery

Can we come over to your house and play? Cyclekarting

"CycleKarts and their builder/drivers don't like to take things too seriously, and certainly not themselves or each other, so overzealous competitiveness is frowned upon, and a win-at-any-cost attitude is not invited back. We do encourage good, sporting competitions for fun, to which end the cars are kept reasonably similar in performance. Drivers have to make their own cars, as we decided some time ago that no one should be able to just fork over money and buy a CycleKart. Proper appreciation for the sport and the machines requires one construct one's own car.

...As if to prove our point one of the drivers flailing down the course disappeared behind a row of protective aloe cactuses. Suddenly we heard the rumble of the car stop abruptly and the top of one of the aloes suddenly waved back and forth like a banner. The man had missed his corner, but "break-neck speed" on this tight course was actually so slow that a head-on into the bushes meant nothing more than an embarrassing grouping of the crowd around the car to marvel at the impact absorbtion of the aloe plant (aloe also cures cuts, so there's that extra safety device).
True, there's not much glory in downhill coasting, -nothing to bring the babes a-running, or the self-image hounds out from under their rocks. But , give it enough tv play, and the ego-chasers will probably show up with a more expensive way to make sure they're taken seriously.

Like most research, in answering one question, we'd only raised others. The foremost of which was, "why did we feel we had to hide our experiment away from the "real" , "adult" world? Why does a world that feels that sitting in a smoke-filled room eating packaged foods and watching aberrated, obscenely paid freaks bobble a ball around on a vacuum tube is somehow a grown-up thing to do, while trying new fesh-air ways to suck a little adrenalin is cause for psychotherapy? Well, let them be 'sane", we say"

... I was in fact offered to visit a Cyclecart "race" a few years ago but sadly another less important and certainly less interesting thing got in the way, a hard lesson learned. The next time the offer is given I'll be there - and dressed as Fangio no less.

The nuclear holocost nightmares ain't what they used to be:Conelrad

"Atomic tourist attractions, radioactive and otherwise, can be found all over the world, but here in the U.S. the landscape is literally pocked with them. Indeed, if John Q. Public was atomically inclined, he could load up the SUV and take the family on a two-month summer vacation and STILL not see everything that's out there. CONELRAD, through links and our own first person accounts, will attempt to cover all your sightseeing needs."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Beautiful music in the machine: "IBM 1403 Printer" by Johann Johannsson

"In 1971, Johannsson's father recorded the sound of the IBM 1401 mainframe computer, using a radio receiver and a reel-to-reel tape machine to capture the electromagnetic waves emitted by different computer functions. Thirty years later, the younger Johannsson rearranged the tape for choreographer Erna Omarsdottir, adding a string orchestra and a recording of the IBM instruction tape he'd found in his father's attic. Late last year, Johannsson released the result on CD — as IBM 1401, A User's Manual — with conductor Mario Klemens and the City of Prague Philharmonic."

Gifts from heaven: The jon frum cargo cult.

"jon frum is a an active cargo cult on the island of tanna in vanuatu in the south pacifc. jon frum is also the name of the messenger of this movement; who on his return, will provide it's believers with promised goods, or cargo ...

jon frum is a an active cargo cult on the island of tanna in vanuatu in the south pacifc. jon frum is also the name of the messenger of this movement; who on his return, will provide it's believers with promised goods, or cargo ..."

"I have lived a rich, restless, magnificent life"

Nobleman, writer, adventurer and inspiration for the swashbuckling gun runner in the Adventures of Tintin, Henri de Monfried lived by his own account ‘a rich, restless, magnificent life’ as one of the great travellers of his or any age. Infamous as well as famous, his name is inextricably linked to the Red Sea and the raffish ports between Suez and Aden in the early years of the twentieth century.

Hashish is a classic tale of adventure in daring by one of the greatest adventurers of the early 20th century. The premise of the book is a classic example of the Fool embarking on a perilous undertaking: Henry de Monfreid learns that hashish is grown in Greece and sold at great profit in Egypt. He formulates a plan to ship it legally to Somalia and then smuggle it north in his ramshackle boat through the stormy Red Sea. But he has precious little idea what hashish actually is.

“After the dangerous play and emotions of this struggle it was going to be very difficult to settle down to humdrum coasting. To do this one has to be a wise old philosopher who has seen through the vanity of everything..”

I dream of visiting him in a little house by the sea, the telling of his adventures going long into the humid night, the smoke from his pipe keeping the mosquitoes at bay.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Our favorite paintings: Grant Wood's Death on Ridge Road

"Only in Death on Ridge Road do motor vehicles come into a Wood painting; there, significantly, they are instruments of destruction and chaos, disrupting the idyllic landscape".

- Just like in the real world. Grant was a genius.

A little boy is kicked out of the model train club and scarred forever: H.R. Giger's ghost train

"Giger had long wanted to build his Ghost Train, an idea dating back to his childhood, borne from a fascination with trains. It later became a recurring theme in his artwork. He tried incorporating it into former ahorted film projects, such as the Alejandro Jodorowsky version of DUNE and Ridley Scott's THE TRAIN. In fact, the locomotive skulls on the SPECIES train bear a resemblance to the 1976 painting he made for DUNE. Giger thought SPECIES a natural fulfillment of his dream, as it could allow him to realize, in a working 3-dimensional form, a lifelong passion."

I'm halfway there:The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

"VHEMT (pronounced vehement) is a movement not an organization. It's a movement advanced by people who care about life on planet Earth. We're not just a bunch of misanthropes and anti-social, Malthusian misfits, taking morbid delight whenever disaster strikes humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Voluntary human extinction is the humanitarian alternative to human disasters.

We don't carry on about how the human race has shown itself to be a greedy, amoral parasite on the once-healthy face of this planet. That type of negativity offers no solution to the inexorable horrors which human activity is causing.

Rather, The Movement presents an encouraging alternative to the callous exploitation and wholesale destruction of Earth's ecology.

As VHEMT Volunteers know, the hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens... us.

Each time another one of us decides to not add another one of us to the burgeoning billions already squatting on this ravaged planet, another ray of hope shines through the gloom.

When every human chooses to stop breeding, Earth's biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory, and all remaining creatures will be free to live, die, evolve (if they believe in evolution), and will perhaps pass away, as so many of Nature's "experiments" have done throughout the eons.

It's going to take all of us going."

Our favorite heroes - The Hog of Steel: WONDER WART-HOG!

What to say about the porcine avenger of the downtrodden? The mockingly right-wing 'rip- someone's- head- off- and- ask- questions- later -if-you -can -think -of -any -questions -that -is' alter-ego of meek lefty Philbert Desanex? What to say about the brilliance of Gilbert Shelton's art and writing (with the help of Joe Brown and Tony Bell)? What to say except that if you haven't read Wonder Wart-Hog then your life is small, bleak, and unfulfilled.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My dream car: The Flying Feather

"The Flying Feather as conceved by Yutaka Katayama and designed by Ryuichi Tomiya in the late 40's. A prototype was built with a 200cc engine (built in-house by Nissan in 1951). Mr. Katayama (aka Mr. K), had a dream from childhood to build a very light weight car (mostly out of motorcycle parts). It was to have a combination of good performance and economy, rather like a gull in flight. Thus the name, "the Flying Feather".

In the late 40's, Mr. K discussed this concept with Ryuichi Tomiya and a sketch was completed instantly. Ryuichi Tomiya had been in charge of body design at Nissan Motors Ltd. before WWII and he was considered to be a genius - later to be called "the Leonardo da Vinci of Japan".

Suminoe Manufacturing produced about 150 Flying Feathers between 1954 and 1955. Today there are only a couple that we know of left in existence. One is on Display at the Tokyo Museum."

My personal belief is that the Feather was a failure because the car was often mistaken for a baby pram, and the Japanese consumer mistakenly bought them for children in thier "toddling" years.

look down when you cross the street: The Toynbee tiles

"These plaques are, I think, made of plastic which is somehow baked onto the street. Either that or they are painted on with the paint that is used for roads (to make dividing lines). I think they are plastic though because of the fact that it is a negative image that is left (what would suspend the letters in space if it were an ordinary stencil) (although there are fine lines sometime between lines of text). Unfortunately whatever they are made of is delicate, especially around the edges of the letters and tends to break apart after a while"

sigh, all my streets have are just the same un-mysterious manhole covers..

The hub of the hubless activity: The Osmos Wheel

"The hubless wheel is a wheel reduced to its essential part: the outer ring. This means that the wheel is free of midwheel structural constraints, which introduces a series of advantages and technological breakthroughs."

Progress is cruel and with no thought to the soon to be out of work axle manufacturers of the world.

Our Bakelite Future

Can you be nostaglic for a time that hasn't happened yet? William Gibson called it "The Gernsback Continuum." I prefer the title above: when the future looked like a 50's radio (applause to the great Modern Mechanix site).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Our favorite heroes: Angle Grinder Man

His one-man crusade started last year when he was wheel clamped at a hospital - after being told to park his car there by a supervisor.

"I found the supervisor and he admitted liability but wouldn't take it off unless I paid £95.

"I didn't pay but took the law into my own hands and hired an angle-grinder and cut it off."

After investing in his own saw and creating a costume to disguise his identity he began looking for clamped motorists and his protest soon gained popularity.

... Sadly Angle Grinder Man's personal website is down (rumored to have been cut off by the British Goverment), but then again I suppose Batman's website is constantly being hacked by evil spammers, so it's probably best anyways....